Name: Straight Jacket
Brewing Company: Revolution Brewing Company
Location: Chicago, IL
Style: Barleywine – English
ABV: 15% (2021 canning date)
A world class Barleywine, comfortably on the proverbial Barleywine “Mount Rushmore.”
From Revolution Brewing’s landing page for the beer:
Our Barleywine Ale features American and Belgian malts which provide the base of this extraordinary ale. After 12 months in bourbon barrels the award-winning Straight Jacket® emerges with notes of stone fruit, toasted coconut, molasses, and vanilla coming in waves as you swirl the glass. Enjoy now or store cold.
Barleywines have become one of my favorite styles over the past couple of year. #BarleywineIsLife or #BiL after all. Unfortunately there aren’t that many being brewed, packaged, and made available in my market. Occasionally, some of the local breweries will brew a barleywine in small a batch, but I don’t think I need to get beyond one hand in counting how many breweries in NJ brew barleywines in batches intended for distribution or beyond small batches.
Enter Revolution Brewing out of Chicago. Unfortunately, I’ve only really seen their IPAs in stores around me here in Central Jersey. Enter the online beer reseller Tavour. Tavour is where my wife purchased all those awesome out-of-region beers for my 20th Anniversary. Revolution has supplanted Goose Island over the last few years as the local/craft brewery of Chicago and their big booze bombs are highly regarded, including Straight Jacket, a Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine which is part of Revolution’s “Deep Woods” series. When I saw this pop up on Tavour, I had to have it.
The beer pours from the 12oz can into the glass smoothly. The color is murky brown, what I’d imagine liquified caramelized sugar or toffee might resemble and as I pass the snifter in front of my nose, the bourbon elements make me smile.
The first sip brings strong burnt sugar to mind, hints of toffee, and aggressive malts. The first word that comes to mind for this beer is smooth…everything about it is delightfully, sinfully, sumptuous, and smooth.
As the beer warms, the sweet elements become more prominent as does the barrel character. The bourbon elements could easily overpower the entire beer and drown out the malt and hops, but here in Straight Jacket the name of the game is accentuation. Each flavor element (hops, malt, barrel) enhances the other elements to a wonderful and delightful degree.
I haven’t had as many Barleywines as I’ve had stouts or lagers. I’m just shy of 40 Barleywines according to untappd. That said, without hesitation I can say that the 2021 canning of Revolution Brewing’s Straight Jacket is one of the best Barleywine Ales I’ve ever had.
Highest recommended possible, link to 4.75 bottle cap untappd rating check in.
2 thoughts on “Beer Review: Revolution Brewing’s Straight Jacket Barleywine”
Hard agree, this is great beer. The first time I had it a couple of years ago, I thought it was great, but a little disappointing after years of hype. Every time I’ve had it after that, though, I like it even more. It’s a really great beer.
As you mention, it’s very strange that eastern PA and NJ don’t have more barleywines (or non-sour barrel programs in general). Kane’s Object Permanance is really the only regularly produced BBA barleywine in the region (maybe Weyerbacher Insanity, but that’s nowhere near the same quality). Victory had Oak Horizontal a couple of times, but it’s not even an annual release. There are other one-offs here and there (Neshaminy Creek did one called Electronic Witch recently that was very good), but nothing like what Rev puts out (Ryeway to Heaven and associated variants are also pretty fantastic, and so on)…
Thanks for stopping by and the thoughtful comments! Object Permanence is outstanding